Our Wonderful Followers who come back again and again to read about us...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATION - *D* Dash Air Conditioning and Dog Therapy Visit

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter D now!


Dash Airconditioner Freon:
This was done in September of 2015. Steve had re-charged the system a few times over the years with cans of R134a freon, but this last time it would not take in any more freon, sadly it would not cool or kick in the compressor.  That usually means that there is too much air in the system.  It needs to be brought in, get hooked up to a machine to evacuate the remaining freon, and then have it pressurized to check for leaks.   We had this done once about 7 or 8 years ago and we were good until now. (remember our rig is 20 years old) Time to do it again....

We found a nice local garage able to do it locally:

Automotive Source Inc. Service Center
61 E. Chestnut 
Chilton WI 53014

We pulled the rig around back, and we were about 10 minutes early for our appointment.  We were taken around back right away, and our mechanic Eric was right on the job.  He let us stay and watch by the rig, and allowed me to take photos.  (we hesitate to ever leave our rig unattended at a shop after a VERY bad experience up in Oconto that caused us a lot of money, pain and headaches)    So we request that we can observe as long as we promise to not get in the way. 

Eric brought out the evacuation machine, and said he has been working for this shop for three years now. He drives over every day from Menasha. Happily, he is closing on a home purchase in the area in one week and is quite excited to be a new homeowner in our city of Chilton. He is looking forward to an easy commute of only a few blocks by next week! 

Eric had to remove the little caps on both ends of the dash air system. Ours is a Acme brand model 191633 and has both an inlet and outlet openings.  Eric hooked up the machine and set it to work.  It first has to suck out all the freon and the old oil stuff in the system. 

Then he pressurized the system and watched the gauges for any leaks for a period of time to be sure.  Next it was time to add the proper amount of freon and also some new dye and oil treatment fluid.  Our system capacity is 4.6 pounds, and Eric wrote it right on the case of the unit so we know in the future what it takes.  Here is my Steveio waiting patiently during the testing process for leaks....

Now it time to fire it up and check the coolant from the dash vents.  Steve went back to check the compressor unit at the engine and noticed that one long rib of our serpentine belt has come off!  The belt is still working, but with one piece missing, we will soon see more of it destroyed. 

Soooo, now we ordered a new belt, and it will be in tomorrow.  Good thing he checked!  He is thinking the tensioner pulley is causing some grief too, and it helped shred the belt. We we will also replace the tensioner at the same time.  Steve has an extra one on hand in his box of replacement parts.  Usually Murphy's Law is that if we have a replacement part on board, then the part in working action never breaks!  LOL    So while he changes the belt, he will put on the new pulley and keep the current one as an emergency spare. 

Now... it's time to PAY THE BILL! 


 Steve looks pained.
Tom looks happy (or so he says) ~!

The bill wasn't so bad afterall! 
It was $78 freon
$4.50 dye/oil
and $75 labor

The serpentine belt will be in tomorrow and that is an additional $54 
Steve will take care of installing that himself.

 Now Fast Forward a year later in 2016----

Dash Airconditioner Compressor:
Our Cat engine has a large Seltec air conditioning compressor unit in the back that runs the little Acme box up front to cool the dash vents. A while back, Steve noticed that our compressor clutch hub was broken into bits!  He can still let the belt run on the pulley, without the clutch hub operating. We just went without any dash air the last few trips.

If you know anything about Steve, you will know that just will NOT do... he needs to fix it!  (in the meantime we can run the rooftop air conditioners with the generator running)  He did some research and some conversations back and forth with a few folks on the Safari Yahoo Group we own:  SafariMotorhomes  

It was difficult to determine which unit we had, as various ones were used over various years during the Safari manufacturing.  There is a label but its way up high inside the engine compartment. He got the model and part numbers off the unit with my help.  I had to lay on my back under the rig, scoot myself into position and then I could get my arm up inside there to aim the camera at the label.  It took five or six photos before I got the full label in the frame. 

Now to find the replacement parts for a 20 year old unit.....

He found a great place to order from (thanks to fellow Safari owner John Ruff)  and the air compressor was ordered toot sweet.  In his talking with Richard, the guy in charge of sales, he mentioned that the drier unit should be changed at the same time.  We ordered that too, and it was shipped free of charge because of the shipping on the big compressor when it fit in the same box.  Nice! 

For the technical guys queries and also in case someone googles up my blog post for the part numbers, here they are: 


4526121 8 Groove Clutch New TM-16 AC Compressor
NEW Seltec 4526121 8 Groove Clutch 12 volt Vetical # 8 & 10 fittings 10 cubic inch.435-56121, 2521196, 10046121.  TM-16
$225.00 plus $23.50 shipping

4103052 Drier 3/8 x 3/8 male o-ring fittings.
Replaces: 4103050, 4103052, 4107316, 804-297, 085266-00 , 054-00001.
3/8 male o-ring drier with female & male switch ports.
$38.50 free shipping

The parts arrived in two days! 

First step was to rip out the old compressor.

We are very fortunate that our whole king sized bed lifts up to access our engine compartment.  Motorhomes with slides do not offer that ability, and you can only access the engine from small trap doors here and there in the bedroom floor or closet.  That is why many diesel repair places charge higher rates of labor for the motorhomes.  Honestly, as our friend Mel says, why charge more?  If it takes longer to work on those kind of motorhomes, the repair place makes more money!  But for rigs like ours that take less effort, why not charge us like the trucks and get it done faster?  Hmmmmmmm??

Here is my hero, busy at his task

While working on removing the old one, Steve had previously applied some PB Blaster spray fluid to help loosen the fittings on the two high pressure lines.  He applied the spray three times a day, during the two days waiting for the parts.  Now the time to tell if it worked? 

No such luck. 
 He had to cut off both lines to get the old unit off.

We have a local guy who is going to make up two new lines with new fittings next week. Then we can drive the rig over and he will install them, and evacuate the system of any debris before filling it back up with freon.

Speaking of debris....  It is a good thing Steve checked the tiny expansion valve for any debris.... 

OH MY!  
Seems the dessicant bag in the old drier unit broke
and all the little BB particles made their way into the valve!

Sure is a good thing he checked it! 

We got the call on Thursday that our newly found semi mechanic had gotten in the ordered ends for the hoses on our AC compressor unit.  He came recommended to us by the faithful parts guy at a local business.  When Steve talked to him on the phone, Chris Fritsch really seemed to know his stuff, and was willing to do the job for us when the new parts came in. Steve had previously drove out and met up with him and he knew what to do for the job, and understood the job we were asking about.

Here is the guy we hired: 
C & F Repairs   Chris Fritsch
W4096 Moore Rd
Hilbert WI
920 418 1858  or  920 439 1858

Thursday night, as soon as Steve was done with work, we brought the motorhome out to the country location. I followed in the car so we could leave the motorhome there.

Chris and Steve got the main ideas taken care of, such as where the engine access from inside was available, and where the controls were inside for the jacks and how to get in the front compartment by the freon fill fittings etc.

The guys finished up their business so we hopped in the car and left our rig in their care.  We do not often do that, but felt confident that his rural location it was fine.  Plus they have a massive doberman protecting the yard and a big Great Pyrenees dog out in the shop. 

Friday evening Chris called and had already flushed the lines out, pressurized them to check for leaks, then evacuated the AC system and refilled with new freon.  While he was doing that, he noticed our passenger side rear hub was leaking... the seal was bad!   We had redone the drivers side 2 years ago, so having the passenger side go bad now was no surprise to us.  Thankfully, he had time to repair that for us too!   We are glad he noticed it for us and it was not in any way to pad the bill.  We had our own choice to take it as it was and get it fixed elsewhere.  Steve asked if he had time, and he was able to locate the seal part and get it done by later Saturday morning!  

We drove on out to pick up the rig on Saturday....

The guys settled up on the bill:
2 AC hose fittings  29.00
3 electric connectors 3.00
1 wheel seal  48.00
refrigerant 30.00
zipties for the lines 5.00

remove and replace fittings on air compressor
pressure check for leaks, evacuate and refill
check fan, remove and repair fan connections
remove and replace rear right wheel seal

labor 6 hours @ $60 per hour!   *that is very reasonable!*

The total bill came to just under $500 which is very good in our eyes.  Of course it is tough to ever pay anyone for work on our meager budget, but we felt confident that the work was done well.  As Steve drove the rig home, the dash air was blasting icy cold.  Perfect! 


Last week I happened to spill my cup of coffee into my laptop!  Don't ask how, it just flopped over and poured into my keyboard!  ACK!   I flipped it over fast, unplugged the power and removed the battery and dabbed with paper towel.  Then I stood it on it's side and blew it with a hair dryer.  I trepidatiously plugged it all back in... it worked.  Somewhat. I missing a few keys worth of characters.  But I quick did a backup to an external drive, just in case.  Then I went on Amazon and ordered a replacement keyboard.  Only $11.57 plus shipping, under $20 total.

The replacement came in two days, and I googled for a You Tube on the exact instructions for my particular laptop.  I watched it through twice, and it was going to be easy. (I had replaced one on my old Compaq and also on my old Dell that were a LOT harder!)

I unplugged the power cord and also removed the battery from underneath.  Best to do this before you start! hahahaha

On the top edge of the keyboard, there were five tiny tabs to push back and pop out the top edge of the keyboard. The tip of a tiny screwdriver worked, but just about anything pointy would do.

The keyboard lifts out and I carefully flipped it over.  Be sure to not *tug* on the flat ribbon cable so you do not damage the connector underneath.

Carefully lift the plastic lever of the connector with the tip of the screwdriver.  The flat ribbon cable will slide right out.

Remove that old keyboard and set aside.  Now get the new one and flip it over, and take the new ribbon cable and line it up.  Be sure you are doing it so the cable will lay flat once you flip the keyboard into place.  Do not do it opposite or you will kink the cable and probably goof up your keystrokes!

Carefully flip the keyboard back over and align the larger stationary bottom tabs first, then snap the top edge back in along those little snappable tabs.  Click Click Click into place!

Plugged everything back into place and VOILA!  All done and now I can type apostrophes, quote marks, no more double C's every time I hit a C and no more mysterious tabbing when I try to hit Caps Lock.  YAYYYYYYY!!!!!!

Our sweet houseguest Millie is missing her owner terribly.  She keeps looking at us quizzically and wondering what happened to that kind old man who spoils her rotten?  Now that Steve's dad is settled into his rehab center for knee replacement therapy, we arranged for Millie to come and visit him!

She is a trained therapy dog with certification for nursing home and recovery center visits, and has been to this facility before with his dad to visit other people and brighten their days.  Well, now it was time for her to visit her owner and give him some LOVE!

Here is a video clip I shot quick from my phone when we went to visit him...

What a Happy Doggie!!!

"Are you coming home soon????"

Millie dutifully laid by his feet while he underwent some therapy exercises.  She never gets in the way around wheelchairs, walkers, equipment or people.  What a good girl! (see her little therapy vest?)

Sadly, we had to say goodbye as Dad P had to get back to his schedule of therapy and get ready to come home as soon as he can. He is doing great for 84 and having a knee replacement.  He has a big Canadian Fishing Trip coming up with all three of his sons to look forward to.  Gotta be able to get in and out of that boat with his full catch of fish each day!

Oh.. .P.S. ... This crazy visiting dog Millie is systematically removing all the manufacturing tags from each and every dog toy in our house! She is not destroying the toy itself, just removing the tags! Silly girl! 

Steve told her the Feds are coming to arrest her 
and put her in doggy jail because 
it is a federal offense to remove this tag! LOL


Friday, January 27, 2017

MOTORHOME MODIFICATION - *D* Dash and Desk and Drunk Doggies

I am going to start off the new year with posting three of our motorhome modifications at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter D now!


Dash Componants:
We didnt do a lot of modifications to the dash, but I thought it would be interesting to go over our dash and cockpit area of our motorhome, just for grins.

Our motorhome dash is protected from the sun damage by lowering the MCD powered windshield shade all the way down when we are parked in the yard.  The shade also can ride at any height as a full-width sun visor! Easy to adjust with the push of a toggle switch to raise or lower it.

Of course, Steve's side is like an airplane cockpit, while mine has all the comforts of home. I have the pretty woolen woven mat from the Grand Canyon for decor and the computer, GPS, remotes for the stereo indoor/outdoor thermometer, backup camera monitor, and of course, my own horn button! You can read about that horn button here:

I will start over on the driver's side.... the console underneath the window has a lot of fun stuff. From L to R is the ash tray, (we do not smoke) but it has a 12 volt cigarette outlet that we do use from time to time.   Next are the buttons for the cruise control, fast engine idle for starting, and adjustment device for the power mirrors.  After that are three lit toggle buttons: exhaust brake, backup camera, and the third is called ''BLINK''!  It is used to flash off and on your clearance and marker lights all around to let passing truckers know they are fully past you and can pull back into the lane ahead.  Seriously! 

Ahead of the 3 toggles in the touch button shifting pad and a tiny micro bubble level.

Round the corner to the area to the left of the steerig wheel are all the electrical buttons for lights, dash fans, mirror heaters, music and side docking lights. They are huge spotlights that help light up around you during backing up at night.  Underneath that is a set of switches to run the hydraulic levelers.  There is another set of the same leveler buttons in an outside compartment.  The big yellow knob is an emergency brake release, by the main headlight switch. 

Here in the middle are all of the gauges and idiot light panels.  Ignore the dust the motorhome has been sitting since the end of October and we will spiffy it up and dust it off when we get ready to go sometime in spring.  The gauges are all kinda extra bling, because Steve mostly uses the Silverleaf VmSpc computerized unit on the far right.

The top is the Silverleaf unit. It gives more accurate readout of the computerized functions of the engine and transmission.  It gives, of course, speed and trip mileage information.  But it gives instantaneous fuel consumption, fuel mileage, turbo boost pressure, engine temp, tranny temp, rpms, driveshaft rpm, road speed, cruise lock speed, turbo temp, and current charging voltage from the alternator.  So it gives a LOT more information than the needle gauges.  Underneath are the dash ac/heater controls and a stereo system hooked to the surround sound in the rig. The far right is the handheld CB that I talked about in my blog yesterday.

Underneath on the far right of his foot pedal area is the traditional ''red box'' that all Safari motorhomes came with.  Filled up chock full to the brim with all the manuals, books, and data sheets for everything that came with the motorhome. The ''Handing Over of the Red Box'' is a momentous occasion when someone sells their Safari motorhome to the next guy.

Between our two dash consoles is the new little back up camera monitor. I wrote in a previous blog about how we moved the camera cable from the overhead tv down to this little 12 volt digital monitor. It is setting on my cute little woven mat we bought in the Badlands of South Dakota.

Of course, you need cupholders... 
Here is one modification Steve did-  the center console cabinet used to just have a shelf,
and you had to dig wayyy back to get anything and shuffle around in the dark. 
Much better! 

Underneath our dash, wayyyyy up high upside down is a 120V AC outlet.  WHY>>>> on earth did they put it there?  You have to crawl under the dash and reach wayyy up and move over a ventilation hose to even plug anything into it.  Sooooo we ran a power strip to the side wall and mounted it tight.  Now we have four outlets close to the front.  I used it mostly for plugging in my computer while we have the inverter on when driving down the road.  (since then I have bought a 12 volt cord for my laptop that plugs into a cigarette lighter)  The outlets are also handy for vacuum cleaning to reach the front areas of the coach.   The dogs lay out of the way on the pad by my feet. It is actually a baby changing table pad with a nice soft flannel cover. 

Since I got the 12 volt cord for the laptop, Steve installed this 12 volt outlet under the dash near the console.  It has two USB charge ports that we can plug in our tablet or cell phone while travelling.

We set the tablet or cell phone over to Hot Spot for data and tether our laptops to it.  I can be online while we are driving down the highway. And why would I want to do that?  Because I have this Super Cool Slide Out Computer Dash Desk!

It extends out into my lap and can fold up and out of the way in a flash to get up and out of my seat. The cord in the pic is the 12 volt cord for the laptop. It is such a nice handy setup for putting the computer inside and folding it away when stopping for a short time like at a store, so nobody can see it from looking in the window.

 See?  closed up toot sweet! 
I just think it was really state of the art stuff to include a laptop desk wayyyy back in 1996 when this rig was built.  I know computers had gone from the all in one units of the 80s to the huge desktop computer towers, and big CRT monitors and coily cord connected keyboards in the 90s.  Not too many folks had laptops. I think laptops back then were about $2,000-3,000 range. I remember my first Compaq was in 1999 and daughter Erin bought a Dell laptop in 2002 for well over $1,000.  So Safari was way ahead of their time by creating this work station for laptops back in 1996.

Here is my laptop setting on the desk.  Kinda cool to be zooming down the road, working on my blog, editing pictures, Skyping with the grandkids, looking up campground information or anything interesting in the towns coming up on the road.

One of my favorite things to do with the laptop is run Microsoft Streets and Trips!  Yes, I know it is no longer supported, but the maps still update.  I have a GPS dongle that attaches via USB port, and the whole screen becomes a huge GPS!
I can mark multiple stops, zoom in and out, calculate a bunch of mileages between towns or campgrounds without disturbing the original settings, and I can even mark notes at each stop of items like cost of fuel, dump stations, campground ratings and other information.  I keep entire maps of each trip we take and save them in separate streets and trips files.

And best of all, it leaves a blue *mouse trail* of the exact route we travelled, 
and if you zoom in you can see exactly 
where you drove, parked, camped or even turned around!

Looks like this with info and routes travelled. 


Enough of that... now on to the Drunk Doggies! 

While we went away today with the big dog Millie to visit Steve's Dad in the rehab therapy center, we first dropped off our two little shelties at the local vet for a teeth cleaning dental appointment. Both dogs came from a very unhealthy environment and bad breeding and inbreeding. Most of the dogs that came from the raid of the hoarder have very bad teeth.  Binney is Auntie and Finney is nephew.  

We left them with a pat and hug and knew they would be fine while we were gone. (more on our Millie visit tomorrow)  

When we got back about 3 pm, we found them all groggy and goofy and dazed from the anesthetic.  Yes... they were Drunk Doggies!  LOL  The vet put them together in the same recovery cage, and it was good that she did.  The tech gal said Finney came to with such a yelping hollar and squeal... but once he saw Binney next to him, he cuddled up to her and shut up and looked like he said ''Oh, Okay then, that's all right now''   hahahhaha

Finney had a large fang tooth on the upper right that had grown straight out and not down.  It was not really bothering him to eat, but if he was gnawing on a hard dog chew it would bleed once in a while.  The vet said she would evaluate it and remove it if need be.  Well, she discovered it not even attached to his upper snout jaw bone, but floating free horizontally along the gum line, with only a small part sticking out.  The rest of the whole huge tooth (almost 2 inches long) was loose and pushing against all his other teeth under the gum line!   Now he has some dissolving stitches and will be fine in no time.

Binney had some deep periodontal disease pockets they filled and has some infection. So she is on antibiotics for two weeks to help clear that up. We got all our drugs, updated their shot records, bought new heartworm and flea/tick drops and paid the bill. It was not as bad as I thought, and a lot cheaper than the expensive vet we used to go to in Appleton.  Kudos to Pheasant Hill Animal Hospital in Chilton.  (the Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue uses them a lot too and they come recommended) 

We carried out the two dozy drunk doggies to the car and brought them home. Millie was sooo worried about her buddies. She kept sniffing them gently to make sure they were all right.

Our little stumble bunnies staggered across the floor, like two drunks at the end of the night.  After a lap or two of water they both cozied up on the couch to snooze away their troubles. 

For supper I heated up leftover juice from a pot roast, and poured it over small chunks of soft carrots and potatoes and small bits of roast beef mixed in.  We had to give Millie a dish of it too so she didn't feel left out.  They licked their bowls clean, although slowly, and appear to have lazy tongues.  But they got every last drop, for sure.

They straggled back to the couch to curl up in my blanket and sleep again.  Finney once in a while is rubbing at the side of his face, but I keep stopping him and moving his paw away. I think he understands because the last two hours he has not bothered it. I do not think we need a cone, but if we do, Walmart pet section has them 2 miles away.

Night Night drunk doggies,
tomorrow you will have a hangover!